Views of the Child in Parenting Matters
Are the views of the child relevant to parenting orders?
Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“the Act”), the Court gains the power to make parenting orders that are binding on all parties involved. In so considering what Order would be in the “best interests of the child”, the Court will consider the primary considerations as given under Section 60CC of the Act, being (a) the benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents, and (b) the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm and from being subjected to abuse, neglect or family violence. Additional considerations as given under Section 60CC include (a) the views of the child.
How much weight will the Court afford to the views of the child?
The views of the child comprise one factor among an array of different considerations that may colour the Court’s assessment of what parenting order reflects the “best interests” of the child. The amount of weight the Court might place upon this factor is contingent on the age and maturity of the child, any undue influence of either parent, and any other consideration the Court deems relevant. Ultimately, the persuasiveness of evidence presented concerning the views of the child is circumstantial and considered by the Court on a case-by-case basis (Bondelmonte v Bondelmonte  HCA 8).
In the case of Kagan & Earle  FMCAfam 88, the Court held the family law report evincing views of the child in favour of the mother to be unconvincing, given a conflation of dates and information. Furthermore, the Court held the mother’s constantly changing proposals for living and schooling to be unsatisfactory and void of stability. Principally, this case demonstrates how the stability of a particular parent’s environment and/or proposals might negate the views of a child.
The Next Step
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